I’ve expressed my affection for video game soundtracks multiple times here on the esteemed Stropse site. There is a seemingly endless amount of musical gems across the vast landscape of gaming. Over the years, people have been thoroughly entertained by not only what they see, but also what they hear within their favorite games.
One franchise whose extensive music collection has more than earned a spotlight of its own is Pokémon’s. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, here’s a list of some of the best tunes in the series that have amused, fascinated, and truly made the Pokémon experience that much more enjoyable. You’ve gotta hear ‘em all.
Ten Carat Hill (Pokémon Sun and Moon, 2016)
This dazzling theme from 2016’s Pokémon Sun and Moon is one of the more euphoric-sounding soundtracks in the franchise’s 25-year history. Its pleasantly distinct synths and sudden transitions into stellar displays of drums make for an intriguing blend of musical excellence.
Battle! Elite Four (Pokémon Black and White, 2010)
A legitimate BANGER! You’d be hard-pressed to find another track anywhere in the gaming sphere that slaps as hard as this one. With three minutes of pure intensity, this theme stands out as one of the most unique and epic themes in a musical library stockpiled with a quarter-century’s worth of amazing music. It’s a true embodiment of a thrilling battle theme. #TurnUp
Sunyshore City (Day) (Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, 2006)
This daytime theme from Sunyshore City in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl has a cool sublime mix of melodies which incorporate an almost progressive rock sound with the signature Pokémon sound that we know and love—A toasty combination (excuse the cringe.)
Driftveil City (Pokémon: Black and White, 2010)
This theme has become a fan favorite for its oriental sound and infectious, lively groove. High energy rhythms and gleeful vibes are in order whenever you pull up to Driftveil City!
Pallet Town (Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, 2009)
The signature sound of Pallet Town is the franchise’s universal theme of humble beginnings and big ambitions. The player starts their epic journey at this location—their hometown—in just about every one of the series’ core games. This fictional landmark has been a constant for every bit of the 25 years of Pokémon, and has seen many remakes—all of which sound like home.
Pokémon League (Day) (Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, 2006)
With keys of serenity and tranquility, this soundtrack from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl is equally soothing as it is peaceful. This track has a sentimental tone and is a welcoming vibe and contrast to a series whose most celebrated pieces of music are largely energetic and vibrant in nature.
Champion Red & Blue Battle (Pokémon Sun and Moon, 2016)
This track is a wondrous display of evolution and harmony. It brings a fresh sound to the series with the brilliant use of an accordion and a guitar which provides sensational baselines and melodies.
The special thing about this theme (besides the fact that it sounds amazing) is that it is a theme 20 years in the making, paying homage to the rivalry-turned-friendship of the franchise’s first key figures, Red and Blue (Red being the protagonist of the Generation I games) from the first games released in 1996 of the same title. A new yet nostalgic piece in many ways.
Champion Battle (Pokémon Sun and Moon, 2016)
This is arguably the most elaborate theme in the Pokémon series and may very well be the best in terms of overall composition. It is a full-scale production of so many fire chord progressions and orchestration. It is an all-inclusive melody of bliss, jubilation, thrill, and every other favorable attribute you’d want in music, let alone a video game soundtrack. I like to think of it as a festival of elation for your ears.
Do yourself a favor and put on your best pair of headphones, isolate yourself from civilization for five minutes (or longer), listen, and enjoy.
To borrow the sentiments of one user in the YouTube comments, it truly does sound like a tribute and a thank you from the creators of Pokémon to all the fans.
Salon Theme (Pokémon Sword and Shield, 2019)
This theme from the latest installment of Pokémon’s core series of games is exquisitely groomed for the pleasure of your ears. It’s a very chillaxing theme, and is a fashionably good look (and sound) for the Pokémon audio library (speaking of chill, Pokémon Lo-fi music anyone?)
Battle! Champion Rival (Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, 2004)
Here is yet another one of the suburb battle themes in the series. This one from Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen plays during the inevitable clash with your lifelong rival. Only one can emerge victorious and become champion in the fated encounter, and this soundtrack complements the high-pressure situation perfectly. Epic music!
It is also a remake of the original and first champion theme of the series from 1996.
Route 18 (Pokémon X and Y, 2013)
A random quote I ran into on the world wide web reads, “Happiness leads none of us by the same route.” That obviously isn’t the case in the context of the game, as players all have to literally travel the same route. But as it relates to real life, this Route 18 theme uplifts with a calming blend of beautiful strings and joyful piano keys, reminding that happiness, in fact, does lead us all to travel different routes and arrive at different destinations—and that’s OK. (Or, at least that’s what my over-analytical mind thought.)
The truly wonderful thing about 25 years of Pokémon music is that there are so many great ones to choose from— and legion’s more that have yet to grace my ears. Regardless, what was presented here is as fine a collection of tracks within the series you’ll find. And we ain’t done yet! Click here for part two.
Here’s to 25 more years of Pokémon music.
*Final note: I somewhat hesitate to title a list like this “the best of” since there is usually at least a bit of subjectivity in these things (I can hear the hate now, lol.) However, I guarantee you’ll find that some of the best music in the series is indeed within this article. Also, a “best of” Pokémon music compilation could easily and justifiably consist of nothing but its amazing battle themes… but that would be a disservice to you, the listener. You’re welcome.